'Original Sin' #1 Put On Your Detective Caps, True Believers, Marvel Unfolds a Murder Mystery!A comic review article by: Shawn Hill, Kevin Reilly, Jamil Scalese
Jamil Scalese: Sins. There are many of them. Some minor, some major. If I had to attribute one of the big seven to us I'd say we are gluttons. For punishment? Maybe. You really have to question why we keep diving into big-time crossovers like we have the last few years.
Over and over I get really excited for the events and, for the most part, I always come away either marginally unsatisfied or massively disappointed. Perhaps it's intrinsic to the format itself but I'm kind of bored with the massive world-ending circumstances that are presented as the foundation of these series. Alien invasions (Secret Invasion; Infinity), pissed god invasions (Fear Itself; Chaos War), robot invasions (Age of Ultron), cosmic entity invasions (AvX) -- while the antagonists have proven diverse the methodology and the structure of the stories remain painfully stagnant.
Shawn and I looked at Original Sin #0 a couple weeks back and both questioned the novelty of some of the elements. After that mediocre start I will confess that I’m enamoured with the more intimate and closed-off story tilled by Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato and Frank Martin. I'm a big fan of murder mysteries, and this is kind of like Forensic Files on the grandest scale possible.
Shawn Hill: I agree with you the smaller scale (relatively, considering the victim had words with Galactus when he felt like it) of a murder mystery could really actually be more suited to the Marvel Universe, bringing out intriguing sides to characters who benefit more from intense examination than crowd scenes of massive ordinance. I don’t know if Aaron is up to capturing each particular character’s flavor (or if even Deodato is in all cases, which I’ll get to below), but the cast they’ve chosen is an intriguing one to judge by the roll call page: retired OG Nick Fury? Punisher? Winter Soldier? Thor’s involved because flying thru space he crashed into some of the Watcher’s (crystallized?) blood floating in lunar orbit? T’Challa wants to stay out of it, but he knows he really can’t? Is that Lola that Fury is driving to the moon, by the way, with Wolvie, Cap and the Widow?
The art is of course impressive, with Deodato applying his near photo-realism to technology (this is what the Watcher’s spooky moonbase is supposed to look like, Jimmy Cheung!), to space suits, to weaponry and to that also important detail of human interaction and facial expressions. Even his ant wings are pretty great. The only quibble I have is with Emma Frost, whom I’d rather not see portrayed by Sienna Miller. January Jones already has the role, Deodato!
Kevin Reilly: So I’m glad I’m starting my interloping of this column with agreement here. On a structural level, I’m totally into what Aaron is doing. Although we haven’t seen the fruits of this effort, it seems to do what Marvel’s been dreaming of since the Avengers broke up: it’s a big-time event that involves pretty much everybody, if that roster we saw is accurate. As someone who really digs lesser known characters, I really love the potential here. Not that we’ll see Beta Ray Bill or anything, but a guy can dream, can’t he?
But it seems like Aaron and his team have taken kind of a roundabout approach to the big stuff at play here. Our apparent main players, Cap, Widow, Wolverine and Ol’ Nick Fury get a phone call about the death of the Watcher, an event barely mentioned and only sort-of seen. I loved Aaron’s structure here, too, in which we see the most unlikely groups of Marvel’s heroes gallery getting together. Naturally, we see the scope of this event-- not necessarily the implications, of course, but we see that Something is Going On.
It’s not until the very last page of his script where Aaron begins to show his hand, and it’s the kind of potential slow-burn that turns so many big-time superhero comic fans off. But the tone is so pitch-perfect, with gallows humor that rings so true, that I couldn’t put it down.
And god, Mike Deodato’s art. Jamil, I know you’re about to talk about it, and I don’t mean to scoop you, but stuff like the action scene with the Thing, Spidey and the Mindless One was the highlight of the book for me, visually. His panel layouts, too, are generally outstanding.
Jamil: Ever since his Thunderbolts run with Warren Ellis I’ve come to appreciate what Deodato can bring to the party. I think this is one of his best single issues ever, with his inherent shady and brooding style working fantastically in the atmosphere of a bloody murder scene. His range is a smidge limited, more animated, eccentric-looking characters like The Thing look superimposed, but, as you both said, overall Deodato really nails the action and gesture. It’s a beautifully illustrated premiere, using splashes and two-page layouts in smart and prudent ways. Previous events include splash pages to take up space (ahem*BendisJRJR*ahem) and it was nice to see an effort to use the area given to add more detail and depth. Thanks, photorealism!
This cast, to quote doge, is “so wow. such interesting”. A Frank Castle/Stephen Strange team-up? OMG, I am so there. The two pronged approach by Aaron to have a bigwig-laden Avengers squad and a gathering of B-list heroes tasked by a shadowed puppet master (who is holding a copy of the bullet that killed Uatu BTW) both investigating the crime carries with it high tension and snappy dialogue. There’s a hanging aroma of fear and bewilderment felt by these heroes that throws me as a reader. I’m used to seeing these characters so confident and ready to deal with anything. I particularly liked Thor’s reaction to the murder. He was so freaked he called Cap on his cell!
Right now it seems that the star of the series, at least the early portion, is going to be the original spy without an eye, Nick Fury Sr. It’s nice to see the old dog back in the field again, and his function as top cop in a homicide investigation is reminiscent of a vetted actor slipping into a role written specifically for them.
Shawn: Marvel is so smart to have given themselves two Furys for the price of one these days, in a way that makes sense. We get the excitement of the movies, but also the quality of the old school. I couldn’t be happier with the cast. And Kevin, you’re right, that battle between Spidey and the Thing (are there any Marvel veterans more experienced?) and the Mindless Ones was pretty epic. I’m actually feeling pretty hard for the Mindless Ones these days. Somebody has really messed with them, in the worst way. You’ve got to know your Marvel rules pretty well to come up with a twist like that! It’s clear that this is a story meant to impact characters not just on an epic level with world-shaking power, but in a more intimate, personal way. Somebody’s screwing with how the Marvel universe operates on a basic level.
Jamil: It’s only one issue so it’s hard to make firm declarations about Original Sin but I love the more inward focus. Marvel relied on huge spectacle and apocalypse scenarios for their previous crossovers, and though that’s still there (I mean FFS an omnipresent being was shot in the face) it’s so refreshing that every hero in the cosmos isn’t involved with this one. At least not yet. There are a crap ton of tie-in issues.
We’re all very encouraged by this start for similar reasons. The premise, the structure, the cast, it’s got a lot going for it. I’m sure the House of Ideas will mess it up somehow, but for now the mega mystery makes the grade.